University of Oulu

Hanna Runtti, Emma-Tuulia Tolonen, Sari Tuomikoski, Tero Luukkonen, Ulla Lassi, How to tackle the stringent sulfate removal requirements in mine water treatment—A review of potential methods, Environmental Research, Volume 167, 2018, Pages 207-222, ISSN 0013-9351,

How to tackle the stringent sulfate removal requirements in mine water treatment : a review of potential methods

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Author: Runtti, Hanna1; Tolonen, Emma-Tuulia1; Tuomikoski, Sari1;
Organizations: 1University of Oulu, Research Unit of Sustainable Chemistry
2University of Oulu, Fibre and Particle Engineering Research Unit
3University of Jyväskylä, Kokkola University Consortium Chydenius, Unit of Applied Chemistry
Format: article
Version: accepted version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 30.5 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Elsevier, 2018
Publish Date: 2020-07-10


Sulfate (SO₄²⁻) is a ubiquitous anion in natural waters. It is not considered toxic, but it may be detrimental to freshwater species at elevated concentrations. Mining activities are one significant source of anthropogenic sulfate into natural waters, mainly due to the exposure of sulfide mineral ores to weathering. There are several strategies for mitigating sulfate release, starting from preventing sulfate formation in the first place and ending at several end-of-pipe treatment options. Currently, the most widely used sulfate-removal process is precipitation as gypsum (CaSO₄·2H₂O). However, the lowest reachable concentration is theoretically 1500 mg L⁻¹ SO₄²⁻ due to gypsum’s solubility. At the same time, several mines worldwide have significantly more stringent sulfate discharge limits. The purpose of this review is to examine the process options to reach low sulfate levels (< 1500 mg L⁻¹) in mine effluents. Examples of such processes include alternative chemical precipitation methods, membrane technology, biological treatment, ion exchange, and adsorption. In addition, aqueous chemistry and current effluent standards concerning sulfate together with concentrate treatment and sulfur recovery are discussed.

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Series: Environmental research
ISSN: 0013-9351
ISSN-E: 1096-0953
ISSN-L: 0013-9351
Volume: 167
Pages: 207 - 222
DOI: 10.1016/j.envres.2018.07.018
Type of Publication: A2 Review article in a scientific journal
Field of Science: 215 Chemical engineering
218 Environmental engineering
116 Chemical sciences
Funding: This work was in part supported by the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation (TEKES) under Grant 4096/31/2014 (project GeoSorbents) and Maa-ja vesitekniikan tuki ry.
Copyright information: © 2018. This manuscript version is made available under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 license